Rethinking Debt

So we are into November which means it is basically a race to get to the holidays (whichever one you celebrate) without going bankrupt.  Money becomes a big focus and concern and worry and a whole bunch of other things that are all tied to stress and emotions.  I realized awhile back that the way I think about bills and that dreaded "D" word (debt!) is kind of messed up.  It can be really easy to go to your mailbox with your stomach in knots about how much you owe this month for this thing or that thing.  You get a bunch of envelopes with the logos of various places that all want money: Utility office, landlords or mortgage company, car payments, insurance, phone bills (mobile and land line!) and you are immediately filled with another "D" word... dread. Rethinking all of this I came to realize that there are only a few ways you are ever free of any of this stuff.  You could become a Freegan for example.  These are people who have decided to boycott consumerism altogether by utilizing different methods of existing.  For example, Freegans can be seen dumpster diving for things grocery stores and other businesses throw away because the item is passed its "sell by" date or expiration date.  This even includes food however.  They have developed strategies for how to live rent free such as squatting a building.  I have seen a few documentaries on Freegan-ism and while I can admire the whole concept and the determination Freegans posses to live as ethically as possible (as that seems to be the overall claim of Freegans) it is not a lifestyle I want to adopt. 

Another way to bypass the whole "Debt" thing is to have nothing at all.  Throw yourself on the mercy of homeless shelters and charities.  You could even go so far as to decide to willingly live on the street with nothing but the clothes on your back.  (I don't think there are many people (if any at all!)  on the street who willingly want to be on the street do you?) You could live a life where the food you eat is provided by church soup kitchens and anything charity or other such program is set up to offer the apparent 'debt-less.'  I am not making light of being homeless at all. My heart aches when I see someone living that life. I am merely making the point that your expenses would be cut down drastically if you had nothing to take care of, no rent to pay, no food to buy and such.  This too, is not a life I want to live. So then, how else can I be debt free?

I could get lucky and win the lottery.  Yeah, right moving right along.  But wait, lets stop there.  Everyone at one time or another has had a fantasy of winning a huge sum of money.  We all have moments of dreaming about what it would be like to just buy anything we want.  Well, that million dollar mansion overlooking the sea is not a one time expense.  It will need constant maintenance and upkeep, not to mention any taxes and insurance that goes along with any house you own.  Even if you don't have a monthly mortgage payment, you still have to take care of the property as you live in it. That costs money too.  Do you want lights in the house?  There is your utility bill that needs to be paid.  What about that dream car?  It still needs petrol and insurance and oil changes and tune ups and cleaning and...the list goes on and on and on. What about that trip around the world many people dream of.  Yep, that costs money too.  Even if you win one of those illustrious "All expenses paid" vacations, you still need money to take care of your home and cars and whatever else while you are away.

I am thrilled to bits that I have rent to pay.  A Utility company that takes care of my electricity and water and picks up the trash also wants my money.  So does the gas company!  Thank goodness!  Thank goodness I have debts!  Some of the alternatives are pretty frightening!  I want glorious, lovely, luxurious debts that I can easily pay because I make money doing something I love.   I don't need a million dollar mansion or some fancy car, just the basics please, that will do just fine.  Heck!  Put me in a place I love with public transportation and I would gladly partake of its services! Yes that costs money too, but it can be WAY less than taking care of an automobile. 

Here is where I have strangely fond memories of the D.A.R.T system in Dublin Ireland.
  Things like rushing to buy a ticket only to just barely miss your train could at times be frustrating.  Then of course waiting thirty minutes for the next train to arrive only to have that anticipation broken by a drearily cheery recording saying "We are sorry to announce that the 11:35 service to... Howth... has been delayed by fifteen minutes..."  But then, everything is relative.  When owning a car it is equally frustrating to find out that your alternator is going out...while you are an hour from home.   Or to be running late one morning only to dash out to your vehicle and discover...a flat tire.  (because that never happens when you are not in a hurry right?!) 

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, DEBT. (sorry didn't mean to scare you!) I just wanted to send out a message to everyone  who looks forward to the upcoming holiday season with a bit of that other "D" word (dread!) I want you to remember that somehow or another you got through it last year, and the year before that, and before that!  You will get through it this year too!

So as we wind along merrily and scarily toward the holidays with gifts to buy and 'traditional feasts' with expensive food you rarely eat any other time of the year, I want you to count your blessings. Be Grateful! These days I find myself grateful for the things that really matter.  My family being the best! (including our feline companion Fred!) Even they represent expenses in some way and I certainly don't want to ever be free of them! 

2 comments

  1. Linda Ursin I pay my bills without resentment or because I know what I get from them. I wouldn't mind having a couple of them go away, though :) The ones that hang around from previous decisions that weren't so smart.
    • Laurie O'Driscoll Yes exactly! I think most of us have a bill or two or three that we wish we had never gotten into. :) We live and learn though.

Leave a comment